Since he was a boy, Dr. Vernon Tegtmeyer has always wanted to help others. “My parents were school teachers and devoted their lives to children, watching them learn and grow,” he said. “That inspired me to combine my love of science and community and become a doctor.”
When he launched his career in 1984, Dr. Tegtmeyer was among only a handful of physicians in Lebanon. Now he’s joined by dozens at Mercy Hospital Lebanon. He’s coming up on 32 years of practicing medicine in the community – and he’s in good company; Mercy’s Dr. Dennis Hite is about to hit a 50-year milestone.
“And that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Dave Steinmann, administrator at Mercy Hospital Lebanon. “Decades of dedication by our doctors have made a major impact on the Lebanon region. That’s why this Wednesday, March 30, we encourage co-workers, patients and the community to take a moment to thank their doctors in honor of Doctors Day.”
The special observance began in 1933 when a well-known physician’s wife set aside a day to honor all doctors with greeting cards and flowers. Decades later, U.S. lawmakers adopted a resolution in recognition of Doctors Day. In 1990, then-President George H. W. Bush signed it into law as National Doctors Day.
“Mercy’s roots go even deeper,” Steinmann added. “The Sisters began working alongside doctors in the Ozarks exactly 125 years ago, bringing health care to areas of the greatest need.” What started as Springfield’s first hospital in 1891 expanded into today’s team that includes hundreds of Mercy physicians in communities across Southwest Missouri.
“It keeps getting better because of the advances of technology, medications and preventive care,” Dr. Tegtmeyer said. “For example, instead of treating someone after a heart attack, we’re helping stop it before it even happens.”
And with half of his lifetime now spent treating patients, Dr. Tegtmeyer is seeing others become inspired by his work. His daughter is a data analyst at Mercy and his son is a physician’s assistant who treats stroke patients in New York City.
“It’s incredibly encouraging to watch others become interested in health care,” he said. “And being a doctor is a huge commitment, but it’s worth it. I’ve loved every minute of it.”